For a researcher, certainly the EU commission’s concrete blocks and cash-only caféterias are always a journey to both the wealth of funding, the wrath of project review, and the center of the earth.
What else is there to be done on the occasion of frequent visits to Europe’s capital – Brussels or Bruxelles, or Brüssel? Certainly, Belgian bar culture, and its beer culture are absolutely worth exploring. Brussels, in addition, offers many public parks and historic buildings – the possibilities of walks are beyond article space.
What to do
- Pay a visit to Corica Café, a coffee bar & coffee roasting shop near the stock exchange in Kjekenmarkt 49. Chose your roast and origin, and get an espresso. And yes, they’ve got Kopi Luwak, if you dare. Or a decent selection of tea.
- Get a brochure from the tourist office, and walk the parks, the royal castle area, the boulevard, or the old town center.
Where to stay
- Hotel Mozart is always worth a stay. Handmade Moroccan interieur, shallow breakfast, located right on target next to the old town market. Rates from 50€ to 80€. Wireless available in some rooms.
- Use the public transport systems. Tickets are available for single, return, 2-day and 3-day trips.
- Besides the Brussels airport, which is right on the train into the city, you can check for cheap flights to Charleroi, one hour south of Brussels. Here, many cheap airlines can be used. There is a bus connection right to Gare du Midi.
- The Brussel city bike project Villo, similar to projects in Vienna, Nice or Oslo, allows you the use of city bicycles.
Where to eat
Eating in Brussels is an ancient art. There is a wide spread in restaurant quality and prices. On top, Brussels is a networking and lobby place in the heart of the European Union. Most people prefer to dine with their contacts in a place where they don’t know anyone else. You wouldn’t want to meet your professor while enjoying Belgian beer. Or while he’s working hard to pick up one of the revisors from the Court of Auditioners.
- Eat Belgian fries with sauce Andalouse or any other of the Belgian sauces. Fries sold on virtually every corner.
- Eat Belgian waffles with chocolate, whipped cream and fruit decoration. Sold in small shops on the streets.
- In case you’ll need to kill time in the A terminal of Brussel’s international airport, then you should spend the time in the Beaudevin wine & tapas bar. It is hidden in a corner of the top floor of the terminal duty-free-shopping mall, next to a book shop. The interior designer managed to create a calm place, disconnected from the hectic flow of passengers. The places’ highlight is a self-service wine dispenser (you need to buy a card for 25€ or 50€), where you can sample the houses’ selection of the world’s most famous wines. Both the regular wine à la carte and the tapas selection are quite good, and reasonably-prized by any airport standards. Just sit there, or use it as a post-meeting networking location with everybody that leaves for the airport after the meeting!
What to bring home
- Chocolate in all its forms! Run for Galérie Royales Saint Hubért, close to the old town market square, and stuff your suitcase!
- A Belgian beer sample pack, available from many of the beer tourist shops in town (or, just a selection of Belgian bottles from the supermarket)
- If you’re interested in fashonable accesories, then Galérie Royales Saint Hubért will offer a hat can cap shop for men, and an Italian glove shop for women. The latter is a former pharmacy, where all the drawers in the old cupboard now store leather gloves. “Can I try the turquoise wild board pair with the red stripes once more?”
Maps & links
The challenge with maps in Bruselles is that streets have a French and a Flemish (Dutch) name. Just because you’ve got the name in one language doesn’t mean it will be on map or the road sign in that language. Refer to several maps if necessary.
- Brussels in Google Maps
- The Brussels city web site is a useful resource to plan ahead concerts, festivals, and exhibition visits.